Check out the Chronicle summary of day one flatwork key points.
Taking a note from George's book, today I wanted to focus on impulsion with Soon. He can be a little dead to the leg, and I decided tonight was the night to focus on that and really getting him to be "through." Another key point for tonight's ride was turning off the outside rein (inside leg to outside hand). I've not used the outside rein as effectively as I could, hence some recent discussion on that. I wanted to explore that and make sure I was making full use of that outside rein to assist with turns and help me control Soon's shoulders. I also set up trot poles in the center of the ring, which would require a square-ish turn off the rail and a straight line across the center of the poles, to another well balanced turn. This is building off the work I've been doing the last couple of days by focusing on moving those shoulders around.
I'll shorten the gushing to a paragraph or so: SOON FELT AMAZING! We did our walking warm up with leg yields, squared turns, and turns on the forehand. We went right to a forward, stretchy trot and his back was immediately up and engaged. After awhile I shortened the reins and asked him for a shorter outline and to bring his poll up. He did, the rhythm and tempo stayed the same and he felt very elastic and light in my hand, while still having good impulsion from behind and lifting his back. His trot was was SO good, in fact, that I almost considered quitting right there. It was a quality of trot that I don't know if I've really achieved with him yet. All because I focused on impulsion and him being responsive to my leg, and riding off the outside rein. I don't consider myself a big "D" dressage rider, but damn I felt like one with the gait that we had. Nice nice nice.
We did our trot poles tonight like I had planned (went through the trouble of dragging them around, figured we'd give it a shot and shoot for the same trot). We got it. The short turn off the wall, straight line over the poles worked nicely and he felt very balanced around the turns tonight (no more Barbie car Tokyo drift!) thanks to that outside rein. He stretched nicely over the poles as well. His canter work was lovely tonight as well, in both directions. Nice push from behind, but well balanced and in control. Good connection with the outside rein, soft inside rein (he was bent nicely around my inside leg), and just another "wow!" moment for me at the canter. So round, so soft, with energy, and balance. All in all it was a mind-blowing flat school. All because I was inspired by some videos the last few days of Anne Kursinski and focused on some basic principles as demonstrated by George Morris. Having a passion for training and wanting to learn and apply things is what makes an average flat school so great. I love what I do. I love that my horse tries so unbelievably hard every day.
There are critics of George's riding these days due to his age, but the video of him on the bay horse in the first morning session proves why he's still got it. It was nice to see the change in the horse's attitude, forward impulsion, and softness. And if that wasn't enough, you can tell from this video of George riding a unicorn that he still gets the job done:
The unicorn clearly has a lot of impulsion and push from behind, its poll is the highest point (except for the horn of course), and George's hands don't move. And if that still isn't enough, the unicorn is smiling. George's horsemanship is so good that it makes unicorns f*cking smile. Amazing.